Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Based on series of Messages preached in July-Sep 1999

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

The Beatitudes is the Lord’s portrait of the true saint. It describes the development of God’s work of grace in the heart of the regenerate believer. It is as such not just about how true and everlasting happiness may be found, but what a true Christian should be.

In this seventh beatitude, we see that all true Christians must be peacemakers. That is, all true Christians ought to have a peaceable disposition; and all true Christians have a duty of peacemaking. These, says our Lord, are blessed and shall be called "the children of God."

A Disposition of Peace

The word ‘peacemaker’ is a literal translation from the Greek. It refers to a person who ‘does peace’ or ‘makes peace.’ It is obvious, however, that the Lord is not merely speaking about the joy that we may derive when we make peace between two offending parties. He is teaching us, rather, that a genuine "[child] of God" will have the disposition of a peacemaker and will be a peacemaker at every opportunity.

What is the disposition of a peacemaker? It is simply a peaceable disposition or a disposition of peace. Does the Scripture speak about a disposition of peace? Yes, indeed. The Apostle Paul makes it clear when he says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…" (Gal 5:22-3).

You will notice that Paul speaks of ‘fruit’ (singular) and not ‘fruits’ (plural). This implies that all these attributes should be present in the Christian. It comes as a package. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of a child of God, He brings with Him this package, which He bestows on the child. This package contains all the attributes that make a Christian different from an unbeliever. There is love so that the Christian now loves God and his brethren. There is joy so that the Christian is joyful even in adversity. There is gentleness so that Christian deal gently even with his enemies. And yes, within this package is also the attribute of peace. Paul, then, is saying that just as every Christian must be loving, gentle, longsuffering, he must have a peaceful disposition. This agrees with our Lord’s statement, does it not?

The Christian, the peacemaker, has a peaceable spirit. He is peace-loving. He treasures peace in his home, in his office, in his church, in his country & in the world. He does not believe in peace at all costs—especially, at the cost of truth. But he desires peace. He prays for peace, and he would do what he can to promote peace; and he avoids doing what would destroy peace.

He does not believe that the lack of peace is a condition to be expected. Rather, he knows God is a God of peace and that peace is a virtue and an ideal. He is not at all surprised that there is no peace in the world, because he knows that war is the inevitable result of sin. As long as sin remains in this world, no matter how hard man tries to secure peace, he cannot obtain real or permanent peace. But he is never used to, or numb to, the lack of peace. He will never be satisfied if he knows that someone is unhappy with him. If he can help it, he will try to reconcile with the person. He does not resign to the fact that his family is always quarrelling. He strives not to contribute to quarrels in the families. He hates quarrels. He prays for peace, he resists the temptation to join in the quarrels and he tries as much as possible to be a peacemaker. In the midst of turmoil and quarrels in his family and in his workplace, he remains the salt and light of Christ. His mere presence discourages quarrels. He is troubled by disagreements within the church, and he tries to mediate whenever possible without becoming political or hypocritical. Such is the disposition of a peacemaker. Such is the disposition that every Christian ought to cultivate.

A Duty of Peacemaking

How can we cultivate a disposition of peace? Apart from prayer, we must no doubt practice peacemaking! Indeed, the fact that this beatitude speaks explicitly about ‘doing peace’ or ‘making peace’ implies that every Christian has a duty of peacemaking.

What does the duty of peacemaking involve? It involves 2 things. Firstly, it involves living peaceably with all men. Secondly, it involves being a mediator between those who are in disagreement or disputes.

Living Peaceably with All Men

The apostle Paul says, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom 12:18). In other words: As far as possible, do not quarrel with others.

This, of course, does not mean peace at all costs. The angels did indeed announce the inauguration of peace when Christ was born (Lk 2:14). But this peace is not the romantic pacifistic peace that sometimes the hippie generation dream about. The Lord of peace Himself made it very clear when He says, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Mt 10:34).

Thus, living peaceably does not mean that we must always ride along with the crowd so that no one will be unhappy with us or disagrees with us. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2, "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Christians are not to live according to the pattern of the world. We are to be transformed by the requirements of the Word of God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It must be to the extent that the world will in some way actually hates us (see Lk 6:22; Jn 17:14; 1Jn 3:13).

So what does it mean to live peaceably with all men? It means not being quarrelsome and abusive even if you differ with others. It means not provoking anger by bringing up something, which may be sensitive or offensive at the wrong time and at the wrong place. Paul’s advice to Timothy in his last will and testament is still relevant for all of us:

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive [or quarrel]; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2 Tim 2:24-26)

If a Christian is to quarrel with another Christian, loudly and unreasonably and he does not repent but still think he is right at the end, it is very possible that he is not a Christian. I am not talking merely about strong words in opposition to unbelief. Sometimes this is necessary. I am not talking about reasoned debates. There is a place for that. I am talking about unbridled attacks, scolding, calling names, threatening, etc. These are clearly not befitting those who bear the name of Christ. Are you guilty of this kind of behaviour, dear friend? Oh let no one excuse himself by saying that that is his character! If his character is such, his heart has not been changed, and he should repent lest he face the wrath of God.

But what if someone launches an attack against you? What if someone attacks your personality and your integrity for one reason or another? How should you respond? You must respond as a peacemaker, or in other words, as a Christian. You must respond with meekness—the badge of a true saint. But how? The Lord teaches us: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him…" (Matt 5:23-25a). But what if something is said in your presence that is inflammatory. In such situation, an unbeliever may react with anger and retaliation. How should a Christian react?

Let us consider briefly some helps from the wisdom of Solomon.
First, learn to defer your anger and delay responding with vigour. Solomon says: "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression" (Prov 19:11); and "A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards" (Prov 29:11). If we speak our minds immediately in conflict situations, we will tend to give full vent to our anger, which will certainly worsen the situation. Therefore it is wise to control yourself and speak your mind only when all parties have calmed down. James says well, "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (Js 1:19).
Secondly, maintain your composure at all times and make a determined effort to speak in a controlled manner. Again Solomon says: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls" (Prov 25:28); and "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov 15:1). Need we say more? Experience teaches us that a quarrel cannot be sustained when one party is speaking meekly and softly.
Thirdly, do not allow anger to persist and grow. Realise that the anger will only heighten if not checked quickly. Solomon says: "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with [i.e. before it grows out of control]" (Prov 17:14).
Finally, learn to give in like Abraham to Lot if possible. "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins" (Prov 10:12). Learn to forgive as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you (Eph 4:32). Learn to say sorry if possible. Saying sorry often ends the quarrel. Try it! Aim to be the first to do so.

These proverbs may not cover all the situations we may encounter. But they are the key principles, which peacemakers must maintain. Apply them the next time someone quarrels with you. Determine in your heart not to sin against God. Respond as a peacemaker. Respond as a Christian.

Being a Mediator

The first aspect of being a peacemaker involves situations in which you are potentially one of the parties of the discord. The second aspect of peacemaking, on the other hand, involves situations where you are not directly in the quarrel. It involves the disputes of others. Paul suggests this in Rom 14:19: "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." In other words, do what you can to make peace. Make every effort at peacemaking. Be a mediator and peacemaker where there are disputes and disagreements. Again there are two sides to it.

In the first place, as a peacemaker, you must not be involved in causing dissension between two parties by your words. It involves not knowingly sowing discord among brethren. It involves maintaining unity, or in the words of Paul: "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3). This means not spreading rumours—such as saying something bad about somebody else so that the relationship between the two parties is soured. If you cannot say anything nice about someone, it is best not to say anything. This is a principle that is hard to keep, but it would do well for us to bear in mind and aspire to.

In the second place, peacemaking also involve mending discords that already exists. Since few of us will be called do this, and each case of dispute is likely to require a different approach to settle, I would like to quickly introduce a few general principles, and then leave it.
Firstly, to make peace, always begin by praying for wisdom from the Lord.
Secondly, as far as possible, remove preconceived bias. This is not necessary always possible since you would probably have formed some opinion before you are even called to mediate. But determine from the start to be honest and objective in your mediation.
Thirdly, it is extremely important for you to hear both sides of the story before saying anything to any party. Learn from Solomon how he decides between the 2 women in their dispute concerning a baby (1Kgs 3). How so often I have had occasions to listen to the grievances of one person against another. And almost in every case, the account is not complete because the person complaining will leave out facts that are not favourable to him. Always verify before forming any conclusions no matter how tempting it may be.
Fourthly, it is the biblical principle that you should always ask if the person who is complaining to you have spoken to the party who offended him or her. Matthew 18 gives us a very clear pattern:

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Mt 18:15-17)
Fifthly, if it is not possible to get the offended party to go to the offending party whether alone or with you, then you must try to placate anger. You may do so by pointing out objectively why the offending party said or did what he did. You must help them to think objectively and reasonably, and to remind them of the principles of forgiveness and unity between brethren as laid down in the Word of God.

But remember: Peacemaking can be a painful job. Our Lord, you must realise, is not speaking about the satisfaction of seeing two parties reconciled. Yes, indeed, if you have been the instrument of reconciling two warring parties, it can indeed give you much satisfaction. But our Lord did not say, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will have the satisfaction of seeing the parties reconciled". Yes, indeed, this may be the case, but also very frequently, not only will you not be successful in peacemaking no matter how hard you try, but you may be caught in the fray and it can be the most painful thing.

But pain or joy today, the Christian will continue to seek to be a peacemaker. He must do so because it is a duty and privilege of the new life begun!

A Designation of Praise

Are you a peacemaker? Remember that every believer ought to be a peacemaker.

And if you are a peacemaker, Christ promises you that you will be called "Sons of God." Who will call you that? No doubt, God Himself and the entire world standing before Christ in judgement. What a tremendous privilege it is to be called Sons of God! But why are we called Sons of God? Because our God is a ‘God of peace’ (cf. Rom 15:33; Rom 16:20; 1 Th 5:23; Heb 13:20, etc). If you are a peacemaker, you are like your heavenly father. It is no wonder you will be called a child of God! Just as the world recognises the disciples of Christ by their love for one another (Jn 13:34-35), the world will recognise a peacemaker as a child of God. But more importantly, if you are a peacemaker, you can have the assurance that you are truly a child of God. The Lord has promised that you will be called a child of God; will He not keep His word?


But let us be reminded, finally, that peacemaking is not only about reconciling quarrelling parties or preventing quarrels among ourselves. Peacemaking involves also the ministry of reconciliation. Paul says:

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18-20).

Every child of God becomes a peacemaker by first experiencing peace with God through the reconciliation purchased by Christ (Rom 5:1,10). If you are enjoying this peace, you will no doubt desire to see others also enjoying this peace. A peacemaker of the most needful kind is an evangelist or witness for the Lord. Are you one? Amen.